Mija, Yes you can teach through a pandemic.

Hola Mijas,

So, it seems like there is no end in sight when it comes to getting over this pandemic, but we promise you there is! For parents, you might not believe that. For teachers, you want to believe that because the thought of not seeing your students, the kids who turn into your temporary children for a year, is a thought you can’t imagine.

The end of a school year is special for teachers and students. Tests are no fun, but end of the year celebrations and graduations are what most students and teachers look forward to. It’s a time where both the teacher and student are able to look back at all they accomplished in one year!

We spoke with a Mija teacher to ask how she feels about the school year possibly ending without a face-to-face goodbye with her students, and the struggles that comes along with teaching from home while teaching her own children as well.

Delilah Kemmerling, 7th grade Reading & Writing Teacher at Harmony School of Excellence-Austin, TX

1.) How stressful has your job become since the COVID-19 pandemic?

The stress level is high. VERY HIGH! My phone is constantly pinging with email notifications from 8 a.m to 8 p.m. Some would say silence it; I wish! I have to be available within these hours for administrators and my 7th-grade students. The stress comes from trying to get students online and working, trying to communicate with parents who, for the most part, are not tech-savvy, and having a lot of students who lack the necessities for an online school.  I am glued to my computer for 8 hours off and on and on top of that, I have to be a 2nd-grade teacher and a Kindergarten teacher from the hours of 9 a.m.-1 p.m.  Somewhere in between all that chaos I make breakfast, lunch and dinner, too. But, I power through it all with positivity because the last thing I need is for my stress to cause any type of negative energy at home. 

2.) How are you able to organize being a teacher for your students AND being a teacher for your two sons?

I set times for the boys to do their schoolwork which is in the morning, and we typically get done by 1 p.m. We have to since my official office hours for my students begin at 1 p.m. I set my hours to be after my sons have had their allotted school time because of the amount of time I am required to be working. It really is all about scheduling and sticking to it. It is hard, but we try to stay on schedule, and when we are feeling overwhelmed we take a personal day. : ) 

3.) Are you hopeful that you will be able to see your students before the school year is over?

I am very hopeful that I will get to see my students. Even if it is for a week or a day, I know we will get to see each other again. We have too! 

4.) How has this Pandemic opened up your eyes when it comes to the job you do and life in general

It’s a whole new world! Online teaching is no joke. So much time is spent on a computer that I sometimes forget about my life. I say this because from 1-7 I am an online teacher. I have to be available for students 2 hours out of the day every day, attend staff meetings and grade-level meetings once a week for about 2 hours.  Then whatever time is left I lesson plan or lesson prep; which is where I lose track of time and am actually done working around midnight or later.

Overall, this experience really makes me miss being at school. Being an online teacher, in my opinion, does not allow me to separate my two worlds in an efficient way. I am new to this form of teaching and am overwhelmed a lot. I have been a teacher for 10 years and have always had that separation of home and school, so to be thrown into this new way of teaching where my home is now my school is like teaching an old dog new tricks. However, this “old dog” is willing and capable of being a successful online teacher in order for her students to be successful. My sons need to get a proper education as do my school kids, so I am always on the lookout for ways to balance both. 

5.) Any advice to students and/or teachers who may be sad that they won’t be able to experience the end of the year events like graduations, proms, etc?

My advice is that even though you may not get the traditional end of year festivities there are still alternatives or silver linings to this negative. Times like this are where we all come together to lift each other up in creative and innovative ways. I am already seeing it happen with birthday parties, baby showers and even “home visits” ( from a distance, of course) from teachers. I would say to not let this affect you in any way; instead, rise up and ban together to create an even more memorable end of year event. I  know that I am currently brainstorming ways to give my youngest son a memorable kindergarten graduation. 

6.) What’s your message to those who may not be taking this pandemic seriously?

People are going to do what they want to do, unfortunately. It’s not until it affects them that they will finally succumb to what people have been insisting on them to do. I just meditate and pray every day that those who aren’t taking this seriously are enlightened soon. I have faith in humanity, even though it takes them a while to get it. So, I really don’t have a message to these people, I just have faith

Fill in the blank: Mija, yes you can…. break through this barrier.

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